Directed by: Vincente Minnelli (Fred's sequences)
|Fred Astaire || Raffles/ Tai Long/ Fred Astaire |
|Lucille Bremer || Princess/ Moy Ling |
|Gene Kelly || Gene Kelly |
|William Powell || Florenz Zeigfeld |
|and an All-Star Cast|
Produced by: Arthur Freed
Written by: Roger Edens, David Freedman, Kay Thompson
Choreographed by: Robert Alton, Eugene Loring, Roy Del Ruth, Charles Walters
Cinematography: George J. Folsey, Charles Roshner
Words and Music by: Various
Production Company: MGM
Premiere: Boston, August 20, 1945Synopsis (from VideoHound's Golden Movie Retriever 2001): A lavish revue of musical numbers and comedy sketches featuring many MGM stars of the WWII era. Highlights include Astaire and Kelly's only duet and a Astaire-Bremer ballet number. (2½ out of 4)
A bold experiment in moviemaking: a plotless revue, hung together just by a format that Ziegfeld was the master of on Broadway.
Sadly, most of it isn't very good. Most of the comic routines fall flat. However, there are some great moments, almost all involving Fred. To be sure, Red Skelton's bit is funny, and Judy Garland turns in a hilarious parody, but this movie is Fred's no question.
That being said, the lowest point of Fred's movie career comes in "Limehouse Blues". It is worse than anything else I've seen him do, and it is pathetic and uninspired that I wonder why on earth he did it in the first place. It's the only number of his I can truly say is terrible. Even "Them Dudes" and "Things Are Looking Up" have their moments. "Limehouse Blues" has none.
Of course, being ethnically Chinese, I probably am biased. Many Western friends of mine love "Limehouse Blues". I don't mind Fred and Lucille not looking Chinese- that's pretty much impossible given the state of make-up technology back then. I don't mind the huge gaudy set either- who cares, it's fantasy anyway.
No, my problem is with the dance itself. It's just... not good. I've grown up seeing worse dancers do better things with the fans than Fred did. Perhaps my standards are a little high. But why didn't they get a Chinese advisor? California has been full of Chinese since the 1890s. Of course, non-Asians probably cannot tell the difference between a good and bad fan dance. Credit to Fred for trying, I suppose.
On the other hand, his other two dances are wonderful. "This Heart Of Mine" really uses the movement of the floor well, with the spinning circle and the travelling strips. The set is really nice to look at. Bremer exudes coyness and sensuality in her role. She seduces Fred with just her eyes.
And of course, the famous duet with Gene Kelly. It's a musical moment in history. They combine well and pound the floor with great aplomb.
I've never had the patience to watch through all of Ziegfeld Follies, but then I don't think you need to. But you will want to watch it just to see Fred and Gene's historic duet.
The final word:
|Dancing value: 7.5/10|
Acting value: NA
Entertainment value: 7/10
Overall Ranking: 30/31
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